By Ronnie Nathanielsz
The International Boxing Federation – IBF – is ready to give promising Filipino bantamweight AJ “Bazooka” Banal a crack at the No. 1 ranking which would mean a mandatory title shot for the 118 pound crown.
IBF Championship Committee chairman Lindsey Tucker told BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard that after the Abner Mares-Joseph Agbeko rematch on December 3 he would “start with the No. 4 and No. 5 ranked fighters and go down the list to see who wants to fight for the mandatory position.”
Tucker said “if Banal is still No. 4 or 5 when I go down the list he will have an opportunity to fight for No. 1.”
Former world flyweight champion, 30 year old Cristian Mijares of Mexico who has a record of 43-6-2 with 19 knockouts is ranked No. 5. The 22 year old Banal has a record of 26-1-1 with 19 knockouts.
The 22 year old southpaw is coming off an impressive unanimous twelve round decision over Mexico’s Mario Briones in the third defense of his WBO Asia Pacific title which he won with a 5th round knockout over Big Yoo of South Korea in Tagbilaran City, Bohol on July 17, 2010.
Banal is also ranked No.2 by the WBO, No. 4 by the WBA and No. 10 by the WBC.
Should Nonito Donaire relinquish his WBO title then Banal would be in line for a shot at the vacant title against No. 1 ranked Pungkluang Sor Singyu (38-1, 26 KO’s) of Thailand.